A sinner changes his entire life through the compassion and generosity of Christ
Reflections on the readings for the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time (November 3, 2019): WIS 11:22-12:2; PS 145:1-2, 8-9, 10-11, 13, 14; 2 THES 1:11-2:2; LK 19:1-10
MISSIO offers “Preaching Mission,” as a homily help, providing connections to mission from the readings of Sundays, Feast Days and Holy Days.
Jesus and His disciples were making their way to Jerusalem. They were not planning to stop in Jericho, but Christ changed His mind after encountering a man who was staring down at Him from the branches of a sycamore tree.
“Jesus looked up and said, ‘Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at you house.’ And he came down quickly and received Him with joy. When they all saw this, they began to grumble, saying ‘He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner’” (Luke 19:5-7). We learn that this man is not only considered a sinner by his neighbors, but is the chief tax collector in the area and very rich. He had heard about Jesus and was determined to see Him.
While Zacchaeus was despised by others, his wealth and position probably still gave him a certain status. So climbing a tree must have been a humbling experience for this short man, who could not otherwise have seen Jesus over the crowd. Yet it was immeasurably worth it to him – more than he could ever have foreseen.
Our Lord’s generous acceptance of Zacchaeus’s good will and good faith was answered with the tax collector’s immediate conversion. He resolved to share half his wealth with the poor and to repay his debts to those he had cheated. The wonderful dynamic of this event reveals the power of God’s mercy to an open heart. Christ saw a heart that was not only willing to believe in Him, but also to be totally transformed by His love.